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Becoming a nurse practitioner opens the door to a whole world of opportunities for those already in the medical field. For nurses already called to a specialized field, such as acute care, family health, or mental health, or for those who are drawn to a specialized population like children, or the elderly, moving forward and obtaining your NP certification is the optimum way to answer your calling.

Nurse practitioners are registered nurses who have advanced their training by obtaining advanced degrees and required certification. There are a whole slew of NP degree programs, including masters degree, a doctor of nursing, and other post-masters NP certification programs. How far you want to advance is really up to you, but the prerequisites to delve into any NP program are specific. You’ve likely already accomplished some of the prerequisites if you’re in the nursing field.

5 Prerequisites or Nurse Practitioner

Undergraduate Degree in Nursing: An undergrad degree in nursing is the first major step to becoming a nurse practitioner. There are many different options for obtaining your undergrad in nursing, but be sure the program you choose is a fully accredited one. Lack of accreditation could result in you not being allowed to sit for the licensing exam.

A BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) is the preferred degree, although a similar 4 year degree can serve as a jumping off point toward your BSN and clinical experience. The reason a BSN is preferred is because it will fulfill many of the prerequisites for the graduate program that’s required for your NP certification. A BSN program will feature such required courses and applications as hands-on clinical instruction, pathophysiology, pharmacology, and specialized care of various populations.
Passing Score on the NCLEX-RN: As part of your nursing program, you will be required to obtain licensure before you’re able to work as an RN (Registered Nurse). Depending on where you live and where you want to practice your career, the requirements to sit for the licensure may vary. Typically, you will need to show certificate of completion of an approved nursing program. At that point you can sit for the NCLES-RN exam. With a passing grade on your NCLEX you can begin working as a nurse, get 2-4 years under your belt, then move toward your next step, a graduate degree.

Graduate Degree in Nursing Field: There are quite a few different graduate degrees in nursing, however, as an NP, the preferred degree is MSN (Masters of Science in Nursing). Depending on your RN status, there are also several ways to obtain your MSN. If you already have your BSN, you can pursue a ‘bridge program’, if it’s offered, or you may opt for an accelerated program, which can be intense, but will get you to the next step within 2 years.

Your MSN degree can be specialized in a variety of fields, or you can choose a generalized MSN. A DNP is another degree option. It will take a little bit longer, typically 4 years to obtain, but it is the highest graduate degree available in nursing. The requirements vary according to your program, so check with admissions to ensure you meet the requirements of your schools graduate program.
Advanced Practice License in Nursing: Once you have earned your MSN, you can apply to obtain your Advanced Practice Registered Nursing License. If you have completed all the requirements, and worked the required number of hours (this number varies according to state) you will be certified as an APRN in your state and you’re ready to complete the final step.

Required Certifications in Specialty Fields: You’re almost there! Your APRN license affirms that you possess the high-level skill set required of such specialties as Certified Nurse Midwife, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, and Nurse Practitioner. Becoming certified in your specialty field is the last requirement to practicing as an NP.

Unlike Clinical Nurse Specialists, who teach, and consult care teams, NP’s actually provide patient care. For this reason nurse practitioners have a greater level of responsibility. They can write prescriptions and even open their own primary care practices. The requirement of nursing specialty certification is necessary to ensure NP’s are able to practice in their specialization.
Some sub-specializations in which NP’s are necessary:

Women’s Health
Gerontology
Adult Care
Acute Care
Pediatric Acute Care
Neonatal
Family Medicine
Psychiatric and Mental Health

Why the Nurse Practitioner is Essential to Healthcare

With the aging population, rise in chronic conditions attributed to lifestyle, rising cost of care, and changes in our available healthcare options, it’s becoming apparent that Nurse Practitioner is a rapidly growing field. Why not advance your practice and increase your employment opportunities by taking the role of NP and changing the face of caregiving for the better.

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